FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Zach Wilson took some hits Sunday against New England, but it was nothing close to the beating he has been taking since his three-interception game.
Wilson has been skewered by local and national sports shows as well as on social media after that game. He certainly didn’t play the part of a franchise quarterback, leading to doubt across all mediums that Wilson is the Jets’ long-term answer at that position.
Robert Saleh isn’t worried about Wilson. The coach said social media is “part of the fabric” of these young players’ lives and he believes Wilson knows how to “block out” the criticism.
“As much you try to ignore it, he knows,” Saleh said. “At the same time, I think these young kids are more equipped than say me who didn’t grow up with social media where one person says something and then it’s like, ‘Oh my God.’ They’re able to compartmentalize. It’s pretty interesting. It’s the way they grew up.
“We’re not worried about Zach. These kids more and more understand the process, they understand what it takes, they know how to block out noise, they know how to stay focused.”
The Jets are 5-3 heading into Sunday’s game against Buffalo. The Bills (6-1) are the AFC’s best team and a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
The last thing the Jets need is for Wilson to hear all the critics and try to respond to them. He had this regrettable performance against the Patriots by trying to do too much.
“Is there a human element that he wants to prove to the world that he’s a good football player?” Saleh said. “Absolutely, they all have that. With a guy like Zach, who comes in and works his tail off day in and day out and is trying to figure things out, I think once he figures out his swing, he’s going to be really good.”
The Jets have been unwavering in their support for Wilson. Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas both called Wilson “our quarterback” this week. .
They promoted Mike White to backup quarterback last week. Saleh said White would play only if Wilson got injured. That could change if he continues to struggle, especially with the Jets in a playoff race.
Wilson is 4-1 since returning from a knee injury. In his season debut, he led the Jets back from 10 down in the fourth quarter in Pittsburgh with his arm. The next three games, Wilson was more of a game manager, handing off to Breece Hall mostly while completing just 40 passes for 441 yards with zero touchdowns or interceptions.
Last week, Wilson threw for a career-high 355 yards and two touchdowns, but those three picks – all under pressure – killed the Jets’ hopes of snapping a 12-game losing streak against New England. White said the talk in the quarterback room has been about fixing those mistakes.
“We try to help him as much as we can,” White said. “Last week, I’m sure there’s a couple of plays that Zach wishes he could have back. There’s also a couple of plays that he did some really, really good things.
“That was the talking point: ‘Let’s build on that.’ There was a lot of good throws out there and he played a lot of good snaps. Everyone’s always going to have snaps that they want back. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care how many years in the league you’ve played. I think it’s building on the good and learning from the bad and moving forward.”
Saleh reiterated that Wilson has to learn how to make the boring play and throw the ball out of bounds and move on to the next down, instead of trying to make something happen that isn’t there.
“Sometimes the best play is making the boring throwaway that he was doing a really nice job of over the last four weeks,” Saleh said. “He’s learning every day. He’s getting better every day. Knowing him he’s going to be relentless in that pursuit.”